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Ammonia through the roof; did my beneficial bacteria die?
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: 2005.04.25(Mon)20:28    Post subject: Ammonia through the roof; did my beneficial bacteria die? Reply with quote

I think I somehow lost my bacteria colony.

The tank is a 6 gallon eclipse, and it is at work so I don't get to it on the weekends. However, the tank light is on a timer, so the fish/plants still get 12 hours of light even on Saturday and Sunday.

I had been doing about a 50% water change every other Sunday, and it has been set up since last November.

The inhabitants were 1 dwarf gourami, 6 neon tetras, and 2 kuhli loaches.

2 weekends ago, something happened and I lost one loach, and 1 tetra (who was a lot smaller than all the rest). It was the "off" weekend for water changes, so I hadn't been in at all since Friday. I knew something was wrong, so I tested my water. Sure enough, Ammonia was at 4 ppm, which was shocking because it had been at 0 ppm for months and months. The other fish looked stressed.

I did a 50% water change on Monday of last week, and the ammonia went down to almost nothing. However, by Thursday it was back up to .5 ppm, so I did another water change. On Friday, my readings were a small trace of ammonia, it registered but was less than .25 ppm, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates. (The nitrates have been 0 for as long as I've had the tank cycled, because I have a lot of java fern and dwarf sag, plus a lily that sucks them up.) I didn't come in on Sunday, because I had done 2 water cahnges the previous week and I thought it would be OK for 2 days.

When I came into work this afternoon (I have class in the mornings), my remaining kuhli was hanging out near the top, and my gourami was listing, and both looked like hell, their scales looked like they were "peeling" after a sunburn. I checked the water again, and the ammonia was back up to 4 ppm. I did a 75% waster change, and the fish seem to be doing better, but I'm worried that when I go in tomorrow that the kuhli and gourami will have died, because they really didn't look good. However, the one bright side is that the tetras seem fine.

What the heck could have happened out of the blue to cause my ammonia to suddenly sky rocket like that after months of stability? Is it possible for the beneficial bacteria colony to die off?
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: 2005.04.25(Mon)21:28    Post subject: bottled water? Reply with quote

using tap water or bottled water?

maybe the water system switched to Chloramine and your conditioner is wrong now.

bottled water would make a pH crash if it is RO.
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Josh Hansen

Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Location: Dayboro, Queensland, Australia

PostPosted: 2005.04.30(Sat)21:23    Post subject: Ammonia Reply with quote

I would test the tap water for ammonia or chlorine in your tap water to see how much is found in the tap water. You might have to put more chlorine neutraliser than the manufacter recommended dose. Chlorine can kill your nitrifying bacteria increasing the ammonia in your tank. Another thing to be concerned about is are you cleaning your filter with aquarium water or tap water? If you are your cleaning filter with tap water you will be killing your nitrifying bacteria and increasing your ammonia.

Hope this information helps and good luck.

from Josh
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